I'm going to preface this week's Honest to Blog with this: This is is no way meant to hurt anyone's feelings, call anyone out, or point the finger/play the blame game. Instead I'm going to touch base on a topic much like my original post that spawned this weekly feature simply to share my newfound point of view.
I love meeting people through blogging. I'm so awkward and shy in person that it makes it hard for me to branch out and meet people. Plus I'm always working on something. I have a group of friends I wouldn't trade for the world, but I'm very cautious as to who I decide to associate with. I'm not sure what pushed me in that direction, but I don't like to just hang out with any ol' person. Blogging has given me an outlet to meet so many like-minded people all while I still manage to be productive. 4 out of 6 of my bridesmaids were met online/through blogging in some way. But I've started to become very particular with who I befriend and associate with online, just like in person. I've recently started paying much more attention to the way people conduct themselves and how they choose to go about communicating online. I've come to notice that so many people in the blogging world whose blogs I've read for months/years are simply part of a giant circle-jerk crowd. I don't want to be friends with someone because it may earn me more pageviews. I don't want to say yes to a guest posting invitation because I think I might get a handful of new followers. I won't lie, at one point that was probably a thought that fueled some of my actions, but being where I stand now I realize that that really isn't what it's about. I'm starting to resent the air of "strategy" that so many bloggers have.
Confession: A few months ago (as recent as a few weeks even!) I was ready to cut the cord to this blog and walk away. It started to not be fun for me. I started to recognize people for their ulterior motives and I even fell victim to blogging drama and catty girl hate. I've talked about the passive aggressive digs and all the messy stuff that comes with. This is blogging. It's honestly not too removed from high school. There are stuck up people, people who want to ride the coattails of others, manipulative people and ones who just want to undermine you for their own benefit. Blogging isn't the rainbow filled bubble we (I, especially) want to think it is. I get so much motivation, support, and inspiration from girls in the blogging world, but that really is just one side of it.
I never want blogging to seem like a popularity contest, but more often than not that's exactly what it is. People will judge how good your blog is based on how many followers you have or giveaways you offer. But blogging has become immensely more enjoyable for me since I stopped reading bloggers I would constantly side-eye and started reading the blogs of my followers. I absolutely love when y'all leave a link to your blog along with your comments! A simple URL works just fine, as ones who leave 3 or 4 lines of self promotion and "OMG come check out my giveaway" get marked as spam. (Again, in it for yourself. Genuine comments are a great way to become part of a close-knit community... just don't turn into That Blogger!). I'm the world's worst commenter but chances are highly likely that if you've left your URL in my comments then I've visited your blog. I follow mostly via Google Reader and I read almost, but not quite every post (sometimes it's overwhelming!), but I'm often at a loss for what to comment with. Anyway, I've noticed how much more inspired I feel when I read blogs that are genuine and void of any agenda. Climbing the circle jerk blog ladder isn't something to aspire to. I've read blogs who got 1+ million hits a month and I started to really look at how they responded to their readers (if at all!) via Twitter and other social media. If they gave absolutely no thought to it, I unfollowed. Even if/when I tweet at someone "higher up" in the blogging world and they are quick to dismiss me only to tweet constantly with their favorite bloggy BFF with "tons of followers", I get insulted. Wouldn't you?! I understand some people get an overwhelming amount of messages and @replies, so if it's a generic "aw!" or "that's so cute/great/awesome/funny!" tweet, I let it slide. But when I/others share sincere comments, it's a harder pill to swallow. I'm not always the best or quickest to respond to everything, but if you tweet at me with a genuine question, concern, comment or just to say hello, I respond back. I respond to every single email I receive too... even if it takes me a week. I'm not a blogging saint, so please don't think I'm trying to say that! But I finally recognize how rude and dismissive some bloggers are... for no reason. If they didn't have readers, they wouldn't be in the position they are now. They wouldn't have sponsorships, partner deals and the opportunities they do (I wouldn't either!). I value my readers so very very much. Even when you speak up and have concerns or constructive criticisms. Sure, the criticisms aren't always the easiest to digest but I try to look at them from a different perspective. Some are helpful and some are just mean. But that doesn't mean they're all malicious.
I know some of you still side-eye me when I say or do things you might think are totally hypocritical or stupid... it's human nature. I do it, too. I very often say/do things that aren't in line with my thoughts/beliefs without realizing. But I hope that each and every one of you read my blog because it inspires you or brings some sort of happiness into your daily lives. Not because I have thousands of followers you could potentially make yours, or in hopes that I link to you randomly. The friendships and relationships I've built from blogging have been some of the absolute best in my life. I don't want people to feel like they have to be sponsors of my blog in order to get mentioned.
I honestly stand behind this next thing that I'm going to say: If my blog doesn't inspire you, bring you genuine happiness or motivate you in any way to be better, feel free to unfollow! If you don't feel like I connect with my readers or give back in a way similar to what y'all give to me, don't feel obligated to read! I mean that with the utmost sincerity, no sarcasm or attitude involved. Explore the blogging world for all it has to offer. Find blogs that really do speak to you, but make sure the blog author is genuine and real. I'm not saying be skeptical of everyone you meet, but be smart. Make sure they're presenting themselves in an honest light. I'm so very far from perfect (and this little blog has all the proof of that!) but I'm willing to acknowledge and learn from my mistakes in hopes that it'll make me a better person.
If you strive to grow your blog or audience, just make sure you stay true to yourself and look at everything from a grounded perspective. Don't let the hullabaloo of being a "big time blogger" be your driving force. Do it for the people you'll meet, the experiences you'll have, and the stories you have to share!
And while I'm on the topic of awesome audience blogs, leave a link to yours below! I want to get to know you if I haven't already! I'm constantly amazed at how many amazing blogs are out there in my general social circle that I've yet to stumble across! When I find one it's like a big "Ah ha!" moment and I wonder how I had missed it all this time! Please don't ever hesitate to introduce yourselves and send your links! You can always email me, too! (kaelahbee at gmail dot com)
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Honest To Blog is a weekly free-writing feature where I share whatever is on my mind. No edits, no filters. Just unapologetic, sometimes offensive, always truthful thought. Click HERE to read all of the past posts in this feature.
This feature has been a saving grace for me and my little blog. I love that you allow me to share my out-there opinions with you even if they're far from popular. It's a wonderful feeling to make LCH a more personal platform.